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Smoky Mountain Service Dogs Serve Those Who Have Served Our Country

LOUDON, Tenn., April 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In the Volunteer State, Tellico Village community members donate their time to help wounded veterans find their canine companion.

Since 2010, the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs (SMSD) organization has provided custom trained mobility assistance service dogs at no cost to enhance veterans' physical and psychological quality of life. To date, the nonprofit group has placed 17 dogs into service. 

SMSD was recently selected by the American Valor Foundation as the recipient of the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit to be held May 6 in Fort Worth, Texas. Kyle is the veteran whose life was chronicled in "American Sniper."

Founder Mike Kitchens says SMSD was chosen for this honor because it lives out the motto of Kyle: It's our duty to serve those who serve us. The organization's 90 volunteers are mostly retirees and almost all residents of East Tennessee's Tellico Village.

"I absolutely love helping the veterans and working with the dogs. I get way more back than I could ever put in," said Pat Chappell, a Tellico Village volunteer.

Volunteers of Smoky Mountain Service Dogs act as "puppy raisers" and "socializers" to help raise and train puppies for service. The training takes two years, but the journey only really begins after a Passing of the Leash graduation ceremony where all the volunteers that worked with a canine pass its leash to a deserving veteran.

"There's no words to express what these dogs can do for us," says veteran recipient Bradley Walker, who lost both legs in an injury sustained while serving in the United States Marine Corps. "There's nothing that I could do that would be enough to repay them for everything they've done for me."

Tellico Village is a planned, active adult community renowned for its strong volunteer culture, and celebrates more than 200 resident-managed clubs, organizations and nonprofits. For more information about Smoky Mountain Service Dogs visit www.smokymountainservicedogs.org and for more information about Tellico Village visit www.tellicovillage.org.

About Tellico Village
Tellico Village is a planned, active adult community established in 1986, located in Loudon County and Monroe County, Tennessee. It encompasses nearly 5,000 acres along Tellico Lake with the community continuing to grow thanks to the variety of recreational amenities available and the friendliness of nearly 7,000 residents. For more information visit www.tellicovillage.org.

Nena Potter

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